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Illegal foreign workers in Malaysia urged to surrender to face lighter penalties

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After the final Enforcement Card (E-Kad) application deadline (30 June 2017), the Malaysian Immigration Department begun its crackdown on employers and illegal immigrants on 1 July 2017.

As of yesterday, according to immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, over 2,000 foreign workers and 44 employers nationwide, Bernama reports.

Speaking to reporters after his opening address at a briefing on the APEC Business Travel Card, Mustafar urged foreign workers who failed to apply for the E-Kad to surrender to escape from being fined and jailed.

Instead of paying up to RM5,000 if they were caught under the enforcement action, those who surrendered would only be charged a penalty of RM400. Should the case be brought to court, the minimum fine of RM10,000 could be imposed, he added.

Elaborating on the terms, Mustafar said: “They (illegal foreign workers) can surrender and be deported immediately but before that, they will be investigated. Under our 3-Plus-1 programme, they will need to pay a fine of RM400, then buy an air ticket and return to their countries of origin.

“They will also be given a blacklist period which can be up to five years from entering Malaysia.”

He also said that the detention depots were expected to be packed with arrested illegals following the E-Kad Special Operations being conducted almost every day.

However, he added, the clearing process was being done by speeding up the investigation and prosecution process while deportation could also help solve the problem of illegals.

ALSO READ: Nearly 80% of illegal foreign workers in Malaysia haven’t applied for E-card

Activists, however, said most of the undocumented workers were victims of human trafficking and fraud, who have incurred massive debts after paying off recruitment agents in the hope of getting a job abroad to escape poverty at home.

Speaking to Reuters, Aegile Fernandez, a director from Kuala Lumpur-based migrant rights group Tenaganita, said:”The onus is on the employers and agents to get the work permits. How do you expect migrant workers to do this when their hands are tied?”

“It’s unjust to arrest and handcuff them, then put them in detention centres and deport them. They have paid money to employers and agents to get permits but it is not done.”

Fernandez added that these workers were at increased risk of human trafficking as some were now trying to leave the country.

Additionally, according to The Straits Times, some workers have gone into hiding in fear of the immigration raids.

READ MORE: Employers in Malaysia warned to urgently register foreign workers

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